The Chicago Blackhawks did what they had to and won game 4 to tie the series up heading to Tampa Bay. A loss there would have put them in a hard spot, but even if it did happen, I wouldn’t have counted them out just yet. The only time you can count them out is when the other team won a total of four games. They can do some amazing things when they’re in the hot seat. Nevertheless, a tied series is much better than being down, and that is what the Blackhawks were able to do in the last game. I’ll say it now, these are two equally matched teams where it could go either way. When you get to the Stanley Cup Finals that is usually the case, but they match-up extremely well together.
That said, the Blackhawks should have won by a much larger margin. They hit three or four posts from my recollection, and were the aggressors for the majority of the game. However, with that said, close isn’t good enough in sports. If you’re a golfer you know what I mean. It doesn’t matter that your shot was off by an inch, it’s still in the water and you need to drop a ball. It doesn’t matter if the ball lips out at the cup, sorry add another stroke to your card. In other words, should is sometimes not good enough for a sporting event. Yes, I did golf yesterday and am fairly bitter by how some holes unfolded, but moving on! The Blackhawks did play more desperately than the Lightning that is for certain, but that was a big game for Tampa as well. The Blackhawks also missed a wide open net by about an inch early in the contest. Conversely, though, Stamkos did have an empty net to tie the game up with seconds left, but a deflection off a Blackhawk stick saved the day for them.
That brings us to game 5, where it looks like this series may be setting up for a decisive game 7. Like I said these are two equally matched teams, the games have been fairly equally played, and a game 7 would only make sense at this point. The Lightning get home ice in Florida tonight, which was so kind to them during the regular season, but not so in the playoffs. The Rangers were able to beat the Lightning soundly, and they allowed the Blackhawks to win on their ice in game 1. Brand new game tonight, a game in which the Lightning almost have to win. Going back to Chicago in a do or die situation would be tough on Stamkos and company. Read below for my thoughts and pick for game 5 of the NHL Finals.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Tampa Bay Lightning
I think due to the Blackhawks being recent Stanley Cup Champions and in the spotlight more than the Lightning have, the edge has gone to the Hawks in the public perception category. I don’t blame that thought process, but there hasn’t been much respect for the Lightning, a team that finished ahead of the Blackhawks during the regular season. Goalie wise, who knows what the Lightning are going to do in this game. Was Bishop healthy to go for game 4 or were the Lightning pulling a fast one? I highly doubt the Lightning would fool around with an inexperienced goaltender in the finals, but you never know.
By no means should you bet your entire bankroll or house on this game. It’s going to come down to who catches a bounce and break here and there. As I alluded to earlier, I think this is a series that is going to be seeing 7 games. The Blackhawks play their best hockey when they have to fight back with their backs against the wall. I like the Lightning to win a close one tonight, forcing the Blackhawks to force a game 7 in Chicago.
PICK: LIGHTNING TO WIN -120 5DIMES – BEST ODDS